Clifford the Big Red Dog on PBS

clifford dog

I remember reading the “Clifford” books, by Norman Bridwell, as a kid, but I do not remember watching the show.  As far as I can find online.  There was a television series around 1988, but the series that my children are sooo into nowadays started in 2003-ish on PBS.  If you are unfamiliar with the story of “Clifford,” it begins with a dog that is considered to be a bit of a runt.  He isn’t expected to grow too much, but because his owner, Emily Elizabeth, loves him so much, he grows to be 25 feet tall.  Very cute!!

The show usually consists of two stories involving the main characters, which are kids and dogs.  There is usually a lesson learned involving important life lessons such as honesty, responsibility, and how to be a good friend.  In the middle, Emily Elizabeth reads a story to Clifford about a dog named “Speckles.”  At the end, there is a lesson of the day that is played out with the characters from the show.

The show states that it is geared for children ages 3-7, however my 1 ½ year old (I know that he shouldn’t be watching, but he does), loves it!  He also loves that we read the books and we have a stuffed animal of Clifford.

I love a good lesson learned in a TV show (see my other criteria here).  Each lesson is learned in a way that it easy for young children to understand.  They do not just focus on the easy lessons, they tackle such concepts of responsibility and admitting when you make a mistake.

One of the reasons that I like the show is how supportive the characters act toward each other.  They make mistakes and some times hurt each other’s feelings, but they always forgive each other.  I can’t stress just how important a lesson that I think this is and it happens consistently in this show.  It is sort of an untold lesson.

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TV Show Review: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS


I personally think that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS is an example of a quality show.  In case you are wondering what I look for in a quality television show for toddlers, you can find my criteria here.

In case you have not seen or heard of it, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new show (Fall 2012) brought to us by The Fred Rogers Company (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood).  As someone who grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, I appreciate the tribute to the old show because it features an animated-version of the puppets that I remember.  The Puppets from back in the day are actually the parents to the main characters in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  King Friday, for example, is the father to Prince Wednesday, one of the best friends to the main character, Daniel Tiger.

Each episode teaches children a new life-lesson or exposes them to a new experience, such as going to the doctor’s office.  The episodes are broken into different parts.  There are usually two stories with the same theme and each story features a VERY catchy jingle to help children remember what they learned.  The songs or jingles drive my husband crazy, however, I like them.  Yes, they can get stuck in your head, but I find them useful in our everyday life.  These songs have helped my daughter deal with different concepts, such as trying new foods, sharing toys, and showing appreciation (as I am writing these, I am singing all them in my head, scary!).  Potty training in our house would have been a lot harder had we not had the potty song from Prince Wednesday and Daniel Tiger.  Months later, we still sing it to ensure that my daughter washes her hands after using the potty.  “If you have to go potty; STOP, and go right away….”

The shows’ webpage states that it is geared to 2-4 year olds and it really is.  From what I have seen so far, I think that the themes are useful for any toddler.  For example, when anything somewhat bad happens to my daughter, it is the end of the world for her, as it is with a lot of toddlers. Well, in one of the episodes, Daniel Tiger accidently smashes his highly anticipated birthday cake.  Daniel Tiger’s parents and friends help him to figure out that although the cake looks different it still tastes delicious.  So, “when something seems bad turn it around, and find something good,” I’m telling you I know all of them.

So overall, I give Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS my recommendation for any children ages 2-4 and invite you to check it out for yourself.  Enjoy!

Here is a clip from the show including the theme song and part of the birthday cake episode:

Web Resources:

  • -This website has a lot of fun activities for your kids to do featuring the characters from the show.  Your child can drive the trolley around, make a card for a loved one and print it, print out coloring pages, and more.
  • -This website is really, really cool.  It is for parents and includes activates to do along with the episodes, some of the background behind the show and so much more.
    • -This is the link to the parent activity page.  It has the activity, learning goal, and description of each show.  If I hadn’t seen the show yet, this page would definitely spark my interest!  Some of the learning goals are patience, cooperation, and finding healthy outlets for anger.

TV Show Review: My criteria for a quality TV show for toddlers

I guess that, as an educator, I am supposed to say that TV rots kids’ brains and in a perfect world, they wouldn’t watch any. However, that is not how I feel at all. Quality television shows can be helpful and educational to children in ways that I am not able to as a teacher or parent. I also think that they can help to enforce what we are teaching our children and help them remember lessons and concepts.

I didn't have a picture of a TV or TV show or anything to fit, so I thought that I would just go with this gem.

I didn’t have a picture of a TV or TV show or anything to fit, so I thought that I would just go with this gem.

I really want to stress how the television show needs to be a quality one because I think that some shows can reinforce negative life-lessons and behaviors. Before I post some reviews of television shows, I want to share what makes a quality show, in my opinion. I am very critical of what shows my children watch, so any that get my “seal of approval” should feel pretty lucky (ha!).

Some criteria I look for in a quality TV show for toddlers and young children….

• I am all about preserving the innocence in our children. I seriously am; let our kids just be kids. So, I think this should be reflected in the show that they are watching. They should be geared toward the minds of our children. They should use kid-friendly language and situations.
• I like non-competitive shows. Ok, let me explain this one. Some friendly competition is ok, but I have seen too many crazy one-upping shows. I don’t like it. I think that it gets too nasty for our audience. I don’t like the idea that there has to be a winner and someone has to be better than everyone else. If you have watched a lot of kid’s shows, I’m sure you know what I am talking about.
• Diversity. I like shows that honor diversity. I love shows that honor and represent children of different ethnicities, disabilities, living situations and just children that are just different themselves. This is very important to me. I always want my child to be honored for her differences and I want her to respect the differences in others, period.
• Gender equality. I don’t know if this should be separate from diversity, but I think that it is sooo important. I am just going to say it-ready? Ready for it? All girls do not have to be princesses and all boys do not have to like construction. Some do, and that is fine, however, I want my kids to see boys and girls doing anything, even if it isn’t stereotypical behavior for their gender. This is what I am talking about….

• I think that the shows that my kids watch should have some type of substance. I know that it is ok for me to watch hours of such gems as Real Housewives of Anywhere, but that isn’t what I want for my kids. They should have it better. I like for their shows to have some type of lesson or problem-solving whether it be educational or a life lesson. They should learn to share, play well with others, solve a mystery, learn their ABC’s’, whatever.
• I also think that the show needs to be enjoyable for kids. When a show is engaging because it is visually stimulating or humorous or whatever, I think that kids have a better chance of understanding and remembering whatever substance the show has to offer.
• Lastly, although we cohabitate on the same planet, toddlers live in different worlds than us. A quality television show needs to reflect that the writers understand this concept. They need to know, for example, how hard it is to hand over a prized possession, such as a train, to a friend to share. They need to show that a child doesn’t want to go to the potty because they don’t want to miss out on all of the fun that will be had while they are gone. Children can relate and connect to these issues and the show that they are watching should reflect this understanding.
• Bonus: Some exposure to enrichment topics such as arts and musical instruments is a nice addition. I want my children to be lifelong learners, no question. I don’t know what they are going to be interested in learning about quite yet (except books, of course). I want them to have exposure to different areas of enrichment to challenge them in a different ways.

There you have it!  As you can see, I am very critical of what shows my children watch, so any that get my “seal of approval” should feel pretty lucky……